Dolce, Gabbana, Elton John and Prof Golombok

There’s a blog title for you! “What the hell is he on about this time?” I hear you ask? Pause for a great opening picture…

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…well, I like well muscled backs and that’s a particularly good example. Now, where was I?

Last week, the supposedly gay duo of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbano enraged several communities at once by denouncing IVF babies as ‘chemical offsprings’ and ‘synthetic children’ and then went on to object to gay adoption (and let’s enlarge that to gay parentage in general since Clare and I (and indeed Dave and Karen) conceived our kids in the conventional way… admittedly after a lot of stimulation from caring gay friends… (see the first book!). Well, the first person to take up the defence was The Rocket Man himself, our Elton, father of two boys from a surrogate mother, followed quickly by Madonna (I forgot her in the title but it’s quite long enough already!).

Prof Golombok is at The University of Cambridge in UK and is about to publish a timely book on the subject, in which she interestingly explores ‘non-traditional families’. That includes single parent families as well as lesbian-mother or gay-father families. Oddly, no-one seems to want to consider situation in which the biological gay parents actually live in the same (dual) household, but no matter. The important conclusion from the learned lady is that “gay parents bring up children just as well as straight ones, and statistically, they may be better parents”. Even better: “Gay fathers are more involved with their children’s lives…(than heterosexual or lesbian couples) and, on average, have lower levels of depression.”

I had not realised that in UK, “gay” is becoming the street word (or at least the school word) for “stupid” – that’s not one we’ve encountered here in Tennessee. Prof Golombok also suggests that children get constantly fed up having to “explain” their family to others.

Pause for another picture: muscle development in progress.

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So, over our slightly atypical Sunday lunch (two lesbian mums, two gay dads, a second gay couple and the two aforementioned allegedly normal and definitely straight kids), we got to discussing this, having found the news item turning up on Dave’s phone from some news feed or other. And we feel that the kids are well old enough to have a view and to discuss their position with adults.

In the second of my books I published a letter I wrote to my son just before he was born. I was very emotional at the time over the forthcoming birth, and deeply worried that the abnormal family arrangement would work against him. Dave worried likewise about Jaymee. I tried to spell out how lucky he would be to have (effectively) two mums and two dads, making him really special. Not ‘better’ than other kids, but different in a way which should not be detrimental and could be an asset.

Well, he’s a pretty normal 13yo boy in all of those respects. Yes, he definitely does have to defend his position (and that of Jaymee, who he thinks of as his ‘sister’) from time to time, but he has a circle of friends from ‘ordinary’ families and has even won over an initial furiously homophobic one where the only son is now his second-best mate, sharing the vigorous physical training they all enjoy. In that last respect, I guess he’s abnormal: both parents are acrobatic performers and heavily into fitness – hence all the pictures like this one which accompany my meandering postings:

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…and hence he has inherited both a keen interest in those things as well as an apparent acrobatic ability which seems likely to exceed that of both parents! Jaymee is pretty much the same.

Both of the kids clearly want to spend time with their assortment of parents, and we all love them to bits for wanting that. Of course, they want to spend loads of time with friends as well, especially their sporting ones, and that happens too. So the pace is frenetic – school is seen as a nuisance getting in the way of training and performing! – but Dave and I were a bit like that and the mums positively hated school. Yet we all get along, make enough money to live on, have fun…

I think that’s what it is all about. And when my son gleefully jumps up and down on my stomach while I lay on the broken glass or nails, that’s one of his ways of saying ‘I love you, Dad!’ And then he asks me to do the same to him, of course, which I don’t, because I’m about twice his weight, but we do smash concrete blocks on him…

Circus folk! Quite mad, of course, but someone has to do it, or you wouldn’t get the chance to pay for tickets to come and see us!

I wonder where we lie on a scale of 1 through 10 in a ‘rate my family’ quiz?

Anyway, great reaction from Elton John and Madonna to an Italian gay couple who should be ashamed of themselves, and for those who are interested in this sort of thing, Golombok’s book ‘Modern Families: Parents and Children in New Family Forms’ is published by Cambridge University Press, UK. Elton apparently rather spoiled the effect of his rant by being photographed the next day holding a Dolce and Gabbano carrier bag, but we’re sure his heart is in the right place and we hope that his boys can grow up normally in the shadow of such a famous father. That’s one thing we’re definitely not – famous. As the third and final book tells, we even had to go into hiding during one ill-fated tour…

OK. That’s four book adverts today instead of the usual three. Enough. You’re probably tiring of my endless attempts to defend/justify/explain our relationships and our kids. More fitness pictures:

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tanned swimmer at rock

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Loving the Boy: ISBN 978-1-907732-30-0

The Power of Love: ISBN 978-1-907732-41-6

Against All Odds: ISBN 978-1-908645-35-7

Here’s to all happy families, whatever their shape, colour, size or style!

About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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